What key is your living room in ?

July 13, 2014 at 07:22 PM · Not too many days ago I had a post about violin design which became a topic about how to evaluate a violin for purchase.

No problem. Some good info was exchanged.

But today I had to open a door for my son in a hurry and found myself in the living room with violin and bow in hand. I couldn't resist the temptation and began to play. The only word I could think of was "WOW".... what a great sound !

My living room is about 16 feet square with a vaulted ceiling at about 16 feet also. About 1/2 is wood floor.

No one will believe that I need a violin for every venue!

Maybe some of the folks who said I sound good were telling the truth :)

My two practice rooms are really small and the sound there is awful.

So, maybe I should only play publicly in my living room?

Replies (29)

July 13, 2014 at 08:03 PM · I try to practice in a 'dead' room and perform in a 'live' one--that way I hear myself most honestly when working, and can offer the best to others.

July 13, 2014 at 08:59 PM · I'm not sure that a "dead" room is a good teacher? I find that my "bad" locations can be very annoying but that's all I have. I do know that playing in a large church with a piano is really fun (and very different from at home).

What I need is someone to play my violin while I am a spectator in church. I bet that would be a big surprise !

July 13, 2014 at 11:25 PM · I like to play in all kinds of locations..........

July 14, 2014 at 05:48 AM · Practising in a room with a lovely, warm, resonant sound feels wonderful, but it makes it easy to miss technical issues relating to intonation and sound production. A dry sounding practice room will make those issues obvious... it isn't so enjoyable perhaps, but very helpful.

July 14, 2014 at 11:21 AM · This might not mean anything to our USA friends, but I would say many living rooms are in a flat key.

July 14, 2014 at 12:15 PM · The reflections of sound off surfaces cause a variety of effects from a rich, full reverberation to an ugly, unfocused tone that can make one think one is constantly playing out of tune.

These things drive recording technicians and players crazy. Microphone type and placement becomes critical. So too, the location of your ears will affect your perception of your playing.

I have a rug in the practice room and a heavy curtain across one end of the room so I can focus on the sound of the violin. But for some playing fun, I step into the large living and enjoy the reverberation.

July 14, 2014 at 02:09 PM · At least I know now that I do battle with some common issues!

Regarding previous CT post,


July 14, 2014 at 08:36 PM · While it is on my mind ..... are there any halls or theaters that PROS would prefer or maybe avoid?

July 16, 2014 at 11:16 AM · Occasionally when helping with my son's viola practice, I get him to play in the bathroom, then challenge him to get the same volume of sound in the living room. Anything that helps sensitize the ears has to be useful.

July 16, 2014 at 12:33 PM · I've also noticed that the very members of a congregation can reduce volume by just sitting there.

This prompts the piano player to overcompensate and me having to play almost on the bridge.

I can compete with the piano but not the theater organ.

A thought ..... were the historic venues designed for orchestra or soloist or both ?

July 16, 2014 at 01:33 PM · I've just measured my living room and its in F sharp minor (Blues scale).

You should never have anything to do with congregations, even if playing on the bridge. That's a bridge too far ...

July 16, 2014 at 09:53 PM · I think you may need a luthier for your F minor problem ?

Meanwhile, I do believe that there is a story (?) about Radio City in NYC has such wonderful design that that there are no acoustic blind spots there.

It's either there or somewhere in DC?

July 16, 2014 at 10:33 PM · Some of my more perceptive clients have noticed that one fiddle will sound clearly superior in one room, while a different fiddle will sound clearly superior in a another room. That will come as no surprise to acousticians.

July 16, 2014 at 11:45 PM · That would be a worry for me if I were a pro.

I think the best orchestral acoustics I've heard were in a basically flat wooden floor area almost the size of two basketball courts.

Of course, were I a pro, I could blame the room for

all sorts of problems.

July 17, 2014 at 04:02 AM · I always take my violin with me when I travel. At one hotel in China the room had a wooden floor with wooden panels on the walls...real timber, not fake ! The sound was quite amazing. It was very different from all the other hotel rooms in which I stayed which usually had tiled floors and concrete walls. I was very surprised by the marked difference.

July 17, 2014 at 09:08 AM · "I think you may need a luthier for your F minor problem ?"

You have to understand my little jokes otherwise you will be taking me too seriously!!

The fiddle is OK and so is the room - not bad for recording in too. A bit on the dry side which is good!

I once tried an instrument here in stinkpot London (many years ago) in a dealers small room and was highly impressed. I took the instrument immediately to a recording session to try it out. I handed it to a colleague to try and he handed it back, not at all impressed. I tried it and realised it was awful and uneven and grotty. It was that reverberrant room at the dealers which had fooled me. It was really a rubbish instrument and I took it straight back.

So practice (and trial instruments) in the worst room you can find!

July 17, 2014 at 12:01 PM · I can tell from your accent that you probably have a keen sense of humor !

I wonder if the pros keep a stable of on demand violins to suite the occasion/location?

July 17, 2014 at 03:06 PM · I speak in pigeon English.

We usually only have only one or two fiddles and adjust our playing to suit the hall, room etc. That's the theory anyway.

July 17, 2014 at 03:50 PM · I must conclude that there are more theories about the violin than realities :)

However, once heard, everything is resolved (or known). I can not say that I've actually heard a "bad" venue for public performance purposes but that would include only 4 or 5 places.

(Scratch that ..... the little barn without air conditioning was terrible except for the great groups who played there. The Danish players back in Denmark had access to a full set of Strad instruments but the Danish Crown would not let the set travel!)

July 17, 2014 at 06:14 PM · I have a large family and a rather small house for our size, so I generally have to practice in one of the smaller rooms in order to keep from being asked to leave because of the noise.

However, we have a huge living room that is currently without furniture (house remodeling). Nobody else appreciates the absence of furniture, but on the occasions that I am able to practice there without disturbing anyone, I am a very happy violinist! I sound about twice as good there as I sound anywhere else!

The only better acoustics I've experienced were in a church that had a wooden stage and very little carpet. The room was quite large, and well shaped to accommodate the huge organ. Since I was one of the first people in the symphony to sit down for the dress rehearsal, I got to have a few minutes to myself in there. It was amazing.

July 17, 2014 at 07:40 PM · I used to practice in the bathroom. Super acoustics. Now it's either in the Living Room/Dining Room or the main bedroom.

July 17, 2014 at 08:10 PM · Emma

I am surprised at how many similar situations are reported in this thread.

There has to be a (legal) way to capitalize on this phenomena. (I could imagine someone marketing a living room series, etc.)

The little mystery about it for me is that the worse noise under the chin also is reduced but I'll take what I can get.

July 17, 2014 at 08:50 PM · John, the sound of the violin makes a very effective mating call.

More likely, I'm just deluding myself. But who cares whether it't true or not, if we can get the opposite sex to buy into it, and violinists become lust magnets? LOL

July 17, 2014 at 09:16 PM · Too late.

My son and his puberty mates decided many years ago that the violin was no way as sexy as a trumpet which only won him a spot in the marching

band and the largest of venues!

Must be true. My Grandson just got his first chick magnet a la brass.

July 18, 2014 at 08:07 AM · Darlene, your living room is in C#. I don't know about mine: it is too irregular in shape.

July 18, 2014 at 12:49 PM · @Darlene "are there any halls or theaters that PROS would prefer or maybe avoid?"

There is one, in Bristol, UK, that performers want to return to time and again. It is St George's Hall, formerly an 18th century church seating about 400, and now a prominent music venue. I've played in it many times - a 5-concert run of Sibelius's seven symphonies starts for me there in September - and always welcome a return visit more than any other venue I've played in. The stage will accommodate an ensemble of up to about 50 or so performers, but it is not a place for the very largest orchestras. There is very little difference in the warm acoustic whether the hall is empty or full.

July 18, 2014 at 01:16 PM · Trevor,

That sounds ideal.

I'm beginning to think that the best places start with a seating capacity of perhaps 250-300 but that excludes the obvious small scale works such as quartets.

But, in fact, it may be the size of the orchestra that is dictating conditions for the violin?

July 18, 2014 at 01:19 PM · Bart

Bathrooms almost always get rave reviews !

July 18, 2014 at 02:33 PM · Well,well,well!

Maybe not heaven but close!

N0te I had in error given an incorrect URL but it is easy to Google for St. Georges Church in Bristol

Great site all around.

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